News Brief

Sun Hires Conservative Operative With No Journalism Experience As New Editor-in-Chief

Former Rob Ford chief of staff Mark Towhey will be replacing James Wallace, who left to become deputy chief of staff for Doug Ford

Late Friday afternoon, pundit and commentator Mark Towhey announced on Twitter that he was to be the new editor-in-chief of Sun News, responsible for the Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary Sun newspapers. Given Towhey’s lack of any background in journalism, and the fact that the Toronto Sun is already headed by another alum of the office of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, it appeared that it may have been a poorly timed, early April Fool’s joke.

Postmedia, however, has confirmed it is not.

After helping elect Ford to the Toronto mayoralty, and serving in his office as director of policy and strategy and later chief of staff, Towhey co-authored a book — Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable – How I Tried to Help the World’s Most Notorious Mayor — that both detailed his knowledge of Ford’s frequently dangerous, abusive, and illegal activities, as well as his efforts to cover them up in the press and keep the mayor’s reelection viable. (In the book, he maintained that he never lied on the mayor’s behalf, merely dissembled.)

He later helped run Patrick Brown’s successful campaign for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario but did not follow him to Queen’s Park. Brown subsequently wrote in his own book that, once he became leader, he had the party’s lawyer draft confidentiality agreements for his staff so that they “could not do to me what Mark Towhey, former chief of staff to Ford, did to the mayor of Toronto, namely, write a book about Ford’s time in office.”

Since November 2013, Towhey has hosted a Sunday afternoon show on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010, a job which he indicated he will be continuing. He has also acted as a consultant, obtaining a $100,000 sole-sourced contract from the Town of Caledon, Ontario, in 2015.

“Mark is a veteran commentator and communications specialist, a business advisor, and a senior leader with a strong track record of strategic planning and general management,” reads a memo to staff from Lucinda Chodan, Postmedia’s vice president of editorial content. She cites Towhey’s op-ed contributions for the Sun, Maclean’s, and HuffPost, as well as his Newstalk 1010 role, but does not mention his tenure in Ford’s office.

“Reporting to me and working alongside Toronto Sun editor-in-chief Adrienne Batra, Mark will bring his dynamic and impassioned leadership to bear on the editorial vision and content of Sun News.”

Per the memo, Towhey will be replacing James Wallace, who departed Sun News in January to become deputy chief of staff in charge of policy and strategic communications for Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

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